Speak Lord: That the faith may be shared, with us and by us.

Font Abbaye St Victor

The Gospel reading for Trinity Sunday, Year B is set below.

Among other things it reminds of how the story of we who are baptised into Christ, in a very real way, began on the day of the Ascension, with the Great Commission to the disciples.

The eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated. Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’

Matthew 28:16-20

In our baptism we are incorporated into the Body of Christ; we become part of how God is, not by nature but as fruit of love.

In that incorporation the gift of salvation is offered to us and we have the opportunity of sharing that gift with others. The Lord is with us so we might be with and for others.

Font in Abbey of St Victor, Marseille. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

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Speak Lord: Father, Son and Spirit

Throne of Grace

The second reading for tomorrow’s Mass of the Trinity comes from St Paul’s letter to the Romans.

The feast celebrates the extraordinary relationship of Father Son and Spirit in the One God. The reading identifies us as members of the family.

Everyone moved by the Spirit is a son of God. The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are children of God. And if we are children we are heirs as well: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, sharing his sufferings so as to share his glory.

Romans 8:14-17

The ‘family’, that is the One God, protects, sustains, restores.

Give thanks for the love that surrounds you. And wonder how to share the good news with others.

Throne of Mercy, the Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon. (C) 2014, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Love in person, love in action

Throne of Mercy, V&A

The responsorial psalm for the Mass of Trinity Sunday celebrates the Lord’s righteousness and the hope it contains for us.

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

For the word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love.
Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

By his word the heavens were made,
by the breath of his mouth all the stars.
He spoke; and it came to be.
He commanded; it sprang into being.
Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

The Lord looks on those who revere him,
on those who hope in his love,
to rescue their souls from death,
to keep them alive in famine.
Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

Our soul is waiting for the Lord.
The Lord is our help and our shield.
May your love be upon us, O Lord,
as we place all our hope in you.
Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

Psalm 32:4-6,9,18-20,22

The psalm celebrates God as Creator, Redeemer, and our hope, our Sustainer. Formal definition of the doctrine of the Trinity, encompassing the Church’s experience of Christ and the Paschal Mystery. It would move the understanding  of God’s being to a unity of persons.

God is one. This is a truth Christians  embrace as firmly as Jews and Muslims. God is one. ‘I believe in One God’, we say or sing  at Mass every Sunday.

And yet this one God is also three, Father, Son and Spirit. Our minds boggle at the attempt to hold these two fundamental truths together. But the Trinity is finally not a doctrine about mathematics or logic, it is a hard won response to God’s self-revelation in the Paschal Mystery.

God speaks. God speaks as love, one love, three ‘persons’ and that love is life for us.

Image of throne of mercy. 15th C Alabaster carving from Nottingham. Victoria and Albert Museum. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: let us hear your voice and know you are God.

Figure in prayer, Montmajour, nr Alres.

The first reading on Sunday, Trinity Sunday, comes from Deuteronomy, and presents Moses calling the people to more deeply know the God who has called them out of Egypt and gifted them the promise of a land…

Moses said to the people: ‘Put this question to the ages that are past, that went before you, from the time God created man on earth: Was there ever a word so majestic, from one end of heaven to the other? Was anything ever heard? Did ever a people hear the voice of the living God speaking from the heart of the fire, as you heard it, and remain alive? Has any god ventured to take to himself one nation from the midst of another by ordeals, signs, wonders, war with mighty hand and outstretched arm, by fearsome terrors – all this that the Lord your God did for you before your eyes in Egypt?

‘Understand this today, therefore, and take it to heart: the Lord is God indeed, in heaven above as on earth beneath, he and no other. Keep his laws and commandments as I give them to you today, so that you and your children may prosper and live long in the land that the Lord your God gives you for ever.’

Deuteronomy 4:32-34,39-40

The same invitation is there for us, who are offered salvation by the Lord. A gift that calls us on a journey of conversion, but a journey eased with God’s love and mercy every step, however hard the step, however challenging.

We, who like the people of Israel addressed by Moses, are not yet good, find our every hlep in the Lord. They found it difficult to believe, or at least to hold on to that belief.

  • Pray for strengthening of faith and trust.

Photograph of supplicant figure from the Abbaye of Montamjour, Arles, France. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Missioned in the Spirit

Upper Room - roman

Already Easter/Pentecost can seem a while away, but the grace and importance of the sSeason is needed still.

In returning to the Gospel of Sunday we have the privilege of being again with the Church on that first Easter Sunday, encountering the Lord as for the first time in the glory of his Resurrection, and knowing for the first time the wonderous gift of the Holy Spirit breathed upon her.

In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

John 20:19-23

The invitation to continue the ministry of their Lord will of course prove the foundation, the bed rock, of the future peace and joy of hte disciples even as they take wounds to their ‘hands and sides’. His ministry becomes theirs and they too have to exercise the discernment as how to respond to sin and folly, to sickness and hurt.

Upper Room detail

  • Whose sins will you forgive today?
  • Whose sins will you retain?

The photographs above are from the place most commonly venerated as the site of the Upper Room. The photographs below are of the Church of St Mark in the Old City of Jerusalem, under which (as ancient cities rise over the centuries because of rebuilding) is found the space honoured by the Syrian Orthodox Church as the Upper Room, site of the Last Supper, of resurrection appearances and the first ‘Christian’ Pentecost. The church above is ornate, the room below distinctly homely, even when graced by the (now) Bishop of Salford.

St Marks Syrian Orthodox

Syrian Orthodox St Mark

St Mark's Upper room

Taste and See: the mystery of the Spirit

Holy Spirit, banner from church nr Eindhoven, NetherlandsThe Preface of Pentecost speaks of the role of the Spirit at the birth of the Church.

The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right and just.

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.
For, bringing your Paschal Mystery to completion,
you bestowed the Holy Spirit today
on those you made your adopted children
by uniting them to your Only Begotten Son.

This same Spirit, as the Church came to birth,
opened to all peoples the knowledge of God
and brought together the many languages of the earth
in profession of the one faith.

Therefore, overcome with paschal joy,
every land, every people exults in your praise
and even the heavenly Powers, with the angelic hosts,
sing together the unending hymn of your glory,
as they acclaim:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts . . .

Each day, at the Eucharist, in the offering of the Sacrifice and the sharing in Holy Communion – in both actions we pray that the Holy Spirit will be at work, hallowing and sanctifying – the Church on earth receives the grace to be made new.

Our participation in the Mass is often fruitful to the extent that we prepare ourselves for that participation, and to the time we take afterwards reflecting on the mystery celebrated.

  • What preparation do you find most helpful?
  • When do you find most convenient to reflect on the experience of celebration?

Taste and See: the wonder of the Spirit

Assisi spirit

The Sequence for Pentecost, not always used in situ in the Masses of Pentecost, is  a beautiful hymn – a prayer of intercession, a prayer of adoration.

As the Church in these days after Pentecost moves from Easter to Ordinary time (though with two exceptional Sunday Feasts looming) the sequence might be revisited as source of encouragement and orientation for our (always challenging!) futures!

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,
From the clear celestial height
Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure
Come, thou light of all that live!

Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul’s delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow

Thou in toil art comfort sweet
Pleasant coolness in the heat
Solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill:

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay
All his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew
On our dryness pour thy dew
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will
Melt the frozen, warm the chill
Guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend:

Give us comfort when we die
Give us life with thee on high
Give us joys that never end.

Photograph of fresco of the Holy Spirit, Assisi. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.